The study of creativity has received significant attention over the past century, with a recent increase in interest in collaborative, distributed creativity. We posit that creativity in distributed groups is fostered by software interfaces that specifically enable socio-emotional or affective communication. However, previous work on creativity and affect has primarily focused on the individual, while group creativity research has concentrated more on cognition rather than affect. In this paper we propose a new model for creativity in distributed groups, based on the theory of groups as complex systems, that includes affect as well as cognition and that explicitly calls out the interface between individuals as a key parameter of the model. We describe the model, the four stages of collaborative creativity and the causal dynamics in each stage, and demonstrate how affect and interface can facilitate the generation, selection, and amplification of ideas in the various stages of collaborative creativity. We then validate our model with data from three field sites. The data was collected from longitudinal studies of two distributed groups involved in producing creative products—astrophysicists studying supernovae and the expansion rate of the universe and children creating multimedia programming projects online—and interviews with staff in a multinational engineering company. Author Keywords Collaborative creativity, distributed affect, distributed groups
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